Sumers Recreation Center enters first full year
Heading into the first full academic year of the Sumers Recreation Center, Washington University students have much to look forward to.
“The primary scope of this facility is to activate our student body and our entire campus through fitness, sports and leisure opportunities,” Bryan Lenz, assistant athletic director and director of recreation, said.
Students and faculty alike flow in and out of the building using the multiple spaces, including the fitness center, rec courts, track, pool, studios, cycling studio and racquet courts. On average, 1,600 to 1,800 people come through the facility weekly.
“I frequently attend the free classes they offer, especially cycling or yoga, and have played intramural basketball on the courts,” junior Annelise Morgan said. “I plan on using it to do some lifting and maybe play some more basketball this year.”
There’s also the Zen Den relaxation space, with massage therapy and complimentary massage chairs, and the Wellness Suite, with daily programming focusing on key topics for students.
While students can use the facilities for free, as part of the student health and wellness fee, faculty, alumni and their partners have to pay for a monthly, semester or annual pass. For those unsure if a membership is for them, a one-time, five-day complimentary trial membership is available.
According to Lenz, at the end of the spring semester, 76 percent of undergraduate students had used the space compared to 50 percent of graduate students, so it’s a work in progress to make the space more accessible and inclusive for all.
“I typically go to the morning cycle and TRX classes,” sophomore Tavis Reed said. “I enjoy the classes because they offer a structured way to work out. I really like that they have early morning classes as it lets me get my workout done before my day really starts.”
Senior Muhammad Elahi echoed this sentiment.
“I go nearly five times a week,” Elahi said. “The hours are amazing for my schedule because it opens early and closes late. Equipment is also readily available and the staff is always friendly. On the whole, a wonderful experience.”
Additionally, over 600 non-student memberships have been purchased, with over 400 staff and faculty purchasing annual memberships. The goal is to increase all the numbers going into the next year.
“The previous athletic complex was a no-cost option for faculty and staff, and so I think initially there was some hesitation from faculty and staff. So, we are trying to impart the value of this new center,” Lenz said.
Upgrades have been made to the equipment lineup already, through identifying the way the Sumers facility is used.
“We moved some cardio equipment up to the track on the turns that overlook Big Bend, facing west because some people didn’t like watching TV as they exercised,” Lenz said. “We also relocated the bench presses over into the cardio box and rearranged the free weight area to just allow for more open floor space.”
The innovative facilities Sumers offers express how Wash. U. is trying to promote this area for those who might not naturally head that way on their own. This semester, Sumers has partnered with campus dietitian Connie Diekman to offer some cooking classes at no charge to students as a way to get them more comfortable in the kitchen.
Bear Adventures outdoor trips were introduced in the spring semester as a way to get outside of the gym and engage people in different ways. Trips included ice-skating, visiting an escape room, hiking trips and a day at Creve Coeur Lake. The trips are open to Wash. U. students and other members of Sumers at a low cost that includes transportation and a meal. This fall, there will be different outdoor activities that may appeal to those who want to participate outside of a traditional gym setting.
“I think getting them off-campus and in some ways, immersing them into nature and getting them involved in other recreational pursuits in the St. Louis region is a great for your physical, social and mental well-being,” Lenz said.
Another new program being introduced is Sumers After Hours. One Friday a month, Sumers will be open until 11 p.m., holding special events to draw people in. The first event, on September 1, will be a glow rave yoga class, followed by a one mile glow run around campus.
“One night, we are going to have music bingo and another night, I think we are having a pool night,” Lenz said. “Down the road, possibly roller skating or laser tag, but we’re looking at different events to kind of engage our students in a safe and healthy pursuits on a Friday night.”
For many, Sumers is a place to work out, but for others, it is a place to see friends and de-stress.
“I certainly plan on using the rec center, mostly for pick-up sports games or as a place to unwind with friends,” freshman Luke Lamb said. “It would be a shame to not use such a nice center.”